Reagan-oriented group snubs Speaker Straus, who worked for Reagan
One wonders if state Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) woke up with back pain this morning. On Wednesday, the directors of the Texas Republican Assembly (TXRA) — a descendant of the California Republican Assembly (Ronald Reagan’s “conscience of the Republican Party”) — endorsed state Rep. Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) for House speaker over Straus, who worked for Reagan from 1982-1985.
According to TXRA’s announcement: “The board of directors chose to endorse in the speaker’s race without the membership of the Republican Assembly due to the time constraints in this race.”
TXRA’s Facebook page lists 14 officers, including a Rowlett City Council member, TxDOT engineer, conservative bloggers and local GOP activists.
The TXRA board’s announcement came on the same day as Paxton was endorsed by the Texas Alliance for Life (TAL), whose executive director Joe Pojman said Straus “cannot be called pro-life” — despite TAL’s PAC donating $250 to Straus after the 2009 Session of the Legislature. The anti-abortion group had donated $200 total to Paxton in 2008 and 2009.
TAL supported former House Speaker Tom Craddick (R-Midland) over Straus in 2009. That year, the group also warned lawmakers that a vote for Straus would be considered a pro-choice vote when it compiles its legislative scorecard. Traditionally, speaker candidates collect pledges from House members before the official vote on the first day of the Session, and the candidate who secures pledges from the majority of members is elected unanimously by acclamation, which is recorded in the official House Journal. The official unanimous vote did occur in 2009.
A couple of weeks before TXRA and TAL’s announcements, state Rep. Randy Weber (R-Pearland) reneged on his pledge to support Straus, citing pressure from district constituents. As the Texas Tribune pointed out, Straus attended two fundraisers for Weber in early December.
In TXRA’s endorsement of Paxton as “the very definition of a conservative Republican,” the board of directors also demands “that Republicans caucus and select the speaker without input from the Democrats.”
House GOP Caucus chair Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) announced that the caucus will meet Jan. 10, the day before the session starts, after speaker hopeful Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) produced the requisite 10 Republican members’ signatures calling for a caucus vote on a speaker nominee.
According to TXRA’s statement: “The Texas Republican Assembly is a grassroots movement to take back the Republican Party for the vast and disenfranchised majority of its members: Reagan conservatives, who believe in small government, lower taxes, free market capitalism, a strong defense, the right to life, and a decent and moral America.”
When he was in his early to mid 30s, Straus served as executive assistant to the Commissioner of Customs in the Reagan White House. Straus also worked in Pres. George H.W. Bush’s administration as deputy director of Business Liaison at the U.S. Department of Commerce from 1989-1991, and he was campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio) in his first congressional run in 1986. (via Texas Sparkle)
TXRA is a direct offshoot of the California Republican Assembly and the National Federation of Republican Assemblies. Both the California and National organizations have registered Section 527 groups with the Internal Revenue Service.
TXRA does not appear in directories as a 527 group or other nonprofit, is not registered as a business entity with the Texas Secretary of State, and is not a political committee registered with the Federal Elections Commission or Texas Ethics Commission. The Denton County Republican Assembly and Tarrant County Republican Assembly do have registered state political committees.